I started to look at the first use of textiles a few month’s ago. It is a fascinating area of study and my need to know more has just increased. My knowledge of the ancient world was pretty patchy. I had the good fortune to study Latin at school and this included a lot of information on Rome and the Romans. We learned a lot about Caesar and his two invasions of England – one in 55 BCE and then again in 54 BCE. Neither of them lasted and I did visit Deal in Kent where he arrived in force. He helpfully wrote about the locals. “Most of the inland inhabitants do not sow corn, but live on milk and flesh, and are clad with skins. All the Britons, indeed, dye themselves with woad, which occasions a bluish colour, and thereby have a more terrible appearance in fight. They wear their hair long, and have every part of their body shaved except their head and upper lip.” Long hair and moustaches were very much the norm when we read this in the early 1970s.
We also ‘did’ a small section of the Aeneid, a long poem about the Trojan war and written by the poet, Virgil in around 29 BCE. Despite this, it wasn’t until recently that I discovered that the Trojan War happened over a thousand years before The Aeneid was written. I actually had no idea of the timescale of the history of ancient Greece and Rome.
A novel by Pat Barker, The Silence of the Girls, tells part of the story of Troy from the perspective of the captured Trojan Queen, Briseis. She was given to Achilles as war booty. It’s war from the distaff perspective. I won’t dwell on the fact that all I could picture as I read the first part was Brad Pitt as Achilles in the movie Troy. I am so shallow, I apologise. The book gives a very different view away from military bravado and focusses on the voiceless victims of war.
A visit to Colne bookshop got me a copy of The Story of Greece and Rome, by Tony Spawforth, that gives a step by step account of over 3000 years or so of the eastern Mediterranean. So I have a new avenue of discovery that is just opening up. I’m a pretty eclectic reader and do like to alternate genres as well as fiction and non-fiction. I’m delighted to see that Pat Barker has a sequel planned. The Women of Troy, follows the fortunes of Briseis after the fall of Troy. It’s not out till August 2021 but I’ll be there for it when it finally arrives.
So for anyone wondering, like I did, where Troy is or was, it is now considered to be on the Dardanelles, a channel between the Aegean (the Mediterranean) with the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. The position of the Dardanelles is of vast strategic significance: a fortified city overlooking it is placed to control sea traffic between east and west. A fortress city had to be there; whether that is Troy is a different matter.